Winter Weather Preparedness
Winter storms can range from freezing rain or ice, to a few hours of moderate snowfall, to a blizzard that lasts for several days. Many winter storms are accompanied by dangerously low temperatures, power outages and unpredictable road conditions.
Preparing before cold weather and a winter storm arrives is critical. Accessibility within the community may be difficult. Roadways and sidewalks may become impassable. Transportation may be limited to access day-to-day needs or for an emergency.
As a Radford University student, faculty or staff member you may hear many terms and definitions when a winter storm approaches and arrives. Many media outlets and the National Weather Service use terms that can help in both preparedness and reacting to various winter weather possibilities. Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a winter storm hazard:
- Winter Weather Advisory - Be Aware! Wintry weather expected. Exercise Caution. Light amounts of wintry precipitation or patchy blowing snow will cause slick conditions and could affect travel if precautions are not taken.
- Winter Weather Watch - Be Prepared! Snow, sleet, or ice possible. Confidence is medium that a winter storm could produce heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain and cause significant impacts.
- Winter Storm Warning - Take Action! Snow, sleet, or ice expected. Confidence is high that a winter storm will produce heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain and cause significant impacts.
- Freezing Rain - Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
- Sleet - Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
- Wind Chill - A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind Chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Both cold temperatures and wind remove heat from the body; as the wind speed increases during cold conditions, a body loses heat more quickly. Eventually, the internal body temperature also falls and hypothermia can develop. Animals also feel the effects of wind chill; but inanimate objects, such as vehicles and buildings, do not. They will only cool to the actual air temperature, although much faster during windy conditions.
There are several steps individuals can take to prepare before winter weather arrives:
- MAKE A PLAN. Know what to do before, during and after a winter storm.
- SIGN UP FOR LOCAL ALERTS AND WARNINGS AND LISTEN TO LOCAL OFFICIALS.
- BUILD A KIT. Include enough food, water, medication and anything used daily in your home to last at least 72 hours.
- STAY OFF THE ROAD DURING AND AFTER A WINTER STORM.
- HAVE A CARBON MONOXIDE ALARM IN PLACE, ESPECIALLY IF USING ALTERNATIVE HEATING DEVICES.
- WEAR SEVERAL LAYERS OF LOOSE-FITTING, LIGHTWEIGHT, WARM CLOTHING, RATHER THAN ONE LAYER OR HEAVY CLOTHING.
- KEEP DRY! Change out of wet clothing to prevent a loss of body heat.
- ALSO, MAKE SURE YOUR CAR IS STOCKED FOR AN EMERGENCY
- KEEP WATER, NON-PERISHABLE FOOD AND AN EXTRA SET OF WARM CLOTHES IN THE CAR IN CASE YOU GET STRANDED.
What is the best source of information about winter weather? NOAA Weather Radio is the prime alerting and critical information delivery system of the National Weather Service (NWS). Local TV stations, radio, web media outlets, and National Weather Service for the Radford University area provides numerous resource links. Also check out the National Weather Service for regional weather information.
If you find yourself in a residence hall or campus buildings during a severe storm make sure it is okay to go or move to another building. Make sure you know where the building safe space is located if needed. If you have an emergency bag in your room make sure you have it close by and check the contents.
For additional information on winter weather preparedness visit the following sites: